Friday, 14 September 2012

Goodbye Lady Nicotine

I was a chain smoker.  I'd tried to stop more times than a politician talks about austerity. I remember once doing really well for a week and then a colleague brought me 200 duty frees and I thought what a shame to waste them and hey presto I was back to where I started.

Of course I read all those horror stories about what smoking does to you.  Then I stopped reading about it.  Sure I had a cough, sure I had no control over my smoking and would still do it even when smothered with a cold.  But nothing was going to happen to me.  So I reasoned.

One day at work a colleague gave me the Alan Carr book on how to stop smoking.  I skimmed through it, not really wanting to read it.  I just wasn't ready to give up yet.  So I gave her back the book after ten days and she'd started smoking again by then so I figured it couldn't be that effective.

Eight years ago while prowling round the bookshops on holiday I came across Alan Carr's Easy Way to Stop Smoking again.  It was actually on special offer so I just bought it, thinking I'd have another look at it some time.  Back home I put it in the furthest corner of the bookcase where I wouldn't see it. I already worked in a no-smoking building and had to nip down four flights of stairs in order to have a cigarette and as I had a busy job I sometimes didn't get to smoke more than two or three cigarettes during the day. At home I had long ago taken to smoking outside regardless of the weather.  In all I smoked between ten to fifteen cigarettes a day and I couldn't stop.  Yet Alan Carr's book bothered me.  I was very conscious of it there in the book case.  One day I took it out and skimmed through the first few pages.  Glowing stories of people who stopped smoking with no side effects did not impress me much but then I came to the chapter headed Warning.  I can't remember the exact wording but I know he wrote that maybe the reader was scared to read on in case they had to stop smoking immediately. He said to keep smoking while reading the book. Suddenly I felt that here was someone who knew what smokers were all about, someone who understood that panicky what-am-I-going-to-do-without-a-cigarette feeling.  And I started reading the book.

That was over eight years ago.  I haven't smoked since.  I remember that when I finished the book I still had three cigarettes left and I decided that when I had smoked them, that was it.  I smoked my last cigarette at around one p.m. on a Saturday. I still recall the sense of finality, of being finally free.  My family didn't notice that I'd stopped.  I wasn't bad tempered. I didn't feel any of the usual withdrawal symptoms.  Sure, it felt a bit strange at first.  Something was missing, especially after a meal or when having a coffee with the girls,  but not so badly missing that I wanted to smoke again.  In fact whenever I thought about smoking I remembered what I'd learned in Carr's book.  Nearly everyone would like to stop but they are afraid of that empty feeling. Carr's idea was to take that fear away and he certainly succeeded in my case!

So Goodbye Lady Nicotine. We had a time of it but I sure don't miss you!

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